Thor 4 Proves Waititi Is A Bad Fit For Star Wars (Which Could Be Great)


Reactions to Thor: Love and Thunder have been mixed, hinting that director Taika Waititi may not be the right person to direct another franchise movie despite his upcoming untitled Star Wars film. However, the director may be just what Lucasfilm needs after a turbulent period for Star Wars, defined by poor critical responses to Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker and mixed reactions to Obi-Wan Kenobi. Waititi has become a star director since joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but his latest film and his comments surrounding the Thor mythos and Natalie Portman’s history with Star Wars suggest he may not be a good fit.

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Taika Waititi was not a household name before the release of Thor: Ragnarok, the third movie in the Chris Hemsworth-led superhero series. Since Waititi has gone on to become a go-to Hollywood director and actor, directing JoJo Rabbit and starring in Lightyear, Free Guy, and The Mandalorian. Many Marvel viewers were excited to see him return to the MCU, but Thor: Love and Thunder received middling reviews. Waititi also endured light controversy when he was reported to have forgotten that Natalie Portman was in a Star Wars movie when talking with her about his upcoming Lucasfilm deal. He also repeatedly made his contempt known for the original Thor comics, noting that he did little research ahead of Ragnarok or Love and Thunder.

For many, Waititi’s obsession with his own comedic style made Thor: Love and Thunder lose what made Ragnarok such a breath of fresh air. Rather than including the quirkier, comedic versions of Thor, Hulk, and Loki of Ragnarok, some felt that nothing was taken seriously in Love and Thunder despite the creepy presence of Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale). Many viewers and critics felt like the tone of the movie overshadowed the story and that the jokes did not land. It was clear that Waititi had more creative control after the immense success of Ragnarok, perhaps without so much involvement from Marvel producer and universe architect Kevin Feige. With all this in mind, it is no surprise that some viewers of the Star Wars series may be worried about how Waititi might morph George Lucas’ universe into something unfamiliar. Yet, while these concerns have some justification, this same approach could also deliver the kind of innovative take on the series that made Ragnarok such a success for the MCU.

Taika Waititi Clearly Isn’t A Star Wars Expert

The Natalie Portman anecdote may be amusing, but it reveals that Waititi clearly is not invested in the extensive lore behind the Star Wars series. Portman’s Padme Amidala is an absolutely essential element of the Star Wars prequel trilogy. She is not only the mother of Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa but a core member of the Galactic Republic who fights to stop Emperor Palpatine from rising to power until his assault on the Jedi in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Furthermore, Padme is the wife of Anakin Skywalker and his paranoia over her survival is a major part of his becoming Darth Vader, thereby kicking the events of the original trilogy into motion. Simply put, Padme is one of the most vital characters to the Star Wars saga that George Lucas ever created.

With Padme’s narrative importance in mind, forgetting that Thor‘s Natalie Portman portrayed her does not instill a lot of confidence that Taika Waititi is passionate about Star Wars lore. The prequel trilogy is not a deep, hidden away piece of lore that only hardcore Star Wars aficionados will be aware of, these films are the beginning of the Skywalker Saga, and Portman starred in all three of them as a main character. As such, it is pretty worrying that a high-profile director like Taika Waititi is due to direct the next Star Wars movie (releasing late 2023), despite forgetting one of its chief characters was played by the actor who portrayed Jane Foster / The Mighty Thor in his movie.

Love & Thunder Proves Legacy Characters Don’t Matter To Waititi

Perhaps the most controversial element of Love and Thunder is its portrayal of Chris Hemsworth’s Thor Odinson. After his emotional arc in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame saw him hit his lowest after the god of thunder failed to kill Thanos, it was unclear what Thor would be like in Love and Thunder. However, Waititi wrote him to take barely anything seriously, significantly undercutting his character and proving that Waititi cares little for prior characterization in favor of writing a character that fits with the tone of his story.

The same is also true of Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster who acts like a completely different character from the woman Thor met in Thor and Thor: The Dark World. Portman’s Mighty Thor constantly cracks jokes despite dying of cancer, proving that Waititi did not care about maintaining Jane’s stoic personality from the original two movies. Hulk and Loki also feel slightly sillier in Ragnarok, but it is possible that Kevin Feige was more involved in making sure they remained consistent to maintain their important character arcs within the Infinity Saga. With this in mind, some are rightly worried that Waititi may take iconic characters like Obi-Wan Kenobi or Darth Vader and make them comedic to fit his style. However, few plot details have been announced for his Star Wars movie, so it is unclear which, if any, legacy characters will feature.

Waititi’s Comments About Marvel Source Material Are Worrying

Ahead of Thor: Ragnarok, Taika Waititi made clear that he has no reverence for the Thor source material. Speaking on the Empire Film podcast, Waititi said: “I did not really do my research. I read one issue of Thor as my research. Not even a graphic novel, one of the thin, thin ones. And by the end of it I was like, well we’re not doing that, let’s not really look at those anymore. Cool art, I love the art but I can’t stand the way everyone talks“. While this worked for Ragnarok, the balance was tipped for Love and Thunder and the director’s disdain for the original Thor comics was clear as he turned Thor into a comedic alien who does not speak like the Asgardian of the comics.

This attitude is worrying ahead of Waititi’s Star Wars movie, as it suggests the director may feel the same way about older Star Wars movies which are not famous for having great dialogue. If Waititi feels the same way about George Lucas’ movies he may well end up doing the same thing with the Star Wars franchise, taking it into pure comedic territory and making Lucasfilm’s Star Wars universe unrecognizable. When taken alongside his comments to Portman about her role in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, Waititi’s lack of care for Marvel comics may be worrying for those who enjoy the more earnest style of the Star Wars universe.

Why Taika Waititi Could Be What Star Wars Needs

However, Taika Waititi may also be key to refreshing the Star Wars franchise, just like he did with Thor back in 2017. Though these concerns are valid, the director may be able to bring something new to the franchise, which has been reliant on nostalgia and callbacks to previous films in projects like Obi-Wan Kenobi and The Mandalorian season 2 instead of telling fresh, new stories. Waititi is clearly a talented writer and director and his lack of Star Wars knowledge could be a blessing in disguise as he can bring a fresh perspective to the world of the Skywalkers without constantly referencing old projects. While Waititi’s Thor: Love and Thunder may have been controversial, his untitled Star Wars movie may well be key to fixing some of the franchise’s issues.

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